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front doors down here and it was dusk."
Poirot said to Nurse Harrison, and his
voice was hard and venomous:
"Can you explain these facts. Nurse
Harrison? I think not. There was no
arsenic in that box when it left Messrs
Woolworth, but there was when it left
Miss Bristow's house." He added softly, "It was unwise of you to keep a supply of
arsenic in your possession."
Nurse Harrison buried her face in her
hands. She said in a low dull voice:
"Ifs true — it's all true . . . I killed her.
And all for nothing — nothing . . . I was
Jean MoncriefFe said:
"I must ask you to forgive me, M.
Poirot. I have been so angry with you —
so terribly angry with you. It seemed to
me that you were making everything so
Poirot said with a smile:
"So I was to begin with. It is like in the
old legend of the Lemean Hydra. Every
time a head was cut off, two heads grew
in its place. So, to begin with, the rumours
grew and multiplied. But you see my task,
like that of my namesake Hercules, was
to reach the first—the original head.
Who had started this rumour? It did not
take me long to discover that the originator
of the story was Nurse Harrison. I went to 96
see her. She appeared to be a very nice
woman -- intelligent and sympathetic. But
almost at once she made a bad mistake -she repeated to me a conversation which
she had overheard taking place between
you and the doctor, and that conversation, you see, was all wrong. It was psychologically
most unlikely. If you and the
doctor had planned together to kill Mrs.
Oldfield, you are both of you far too
intelligent and level-headed to hold such a
conversation in a room with an open door, easily overheard by someone on the stairs
or someone in the kitchen. Moreover, the
words attributed to you did not fit in at all
with your mental make-up. They were the
words of a much older woman and of one
of a quite different type. They were words
such as would be imagined by Nurse
Harrison as being used by herself in like
"I had, up to then, regarded the whole
matter as fairly simple. Nurse Harrison, I
realised, was a fairly young and still
handsome woman -- she had been thrown
closely with Doctor Oldfield for nearly
three years--the doctor had been very fond of her and grateful to her for her tact
and sympathy. She had formed the impression
that if Mrs. Oldfield died, the
doctor would probably ask her to marry
him. Instead of that, after Mrs. Oldfield's
death, she learns that Doctor Oldfield is in
love with you. Straightaway, driven by
anger and jealousy, she starts spreading the
rumour that Doctor Oldfield has poisoned
"That, as I say, was how I had visualised
the position at first. It was a case of a
jealous woman and a lying rumour. But
the old trite phrase 'no smoke without
fire' recurred to me significantly. I wondered
if Nurse Harrison had done more than spread a rumour. Certain things she
said rang strangely. She told me that Mrs.
Oldfield's illness was largely...
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